Those first few weeks of Motherhood: Long days, longer nights, frustrated that what was supposed to come naturally just doesn’t, wondering if your wedding ring will ever fit again (it still doesn’t) and questionging if you will ever be able to feel normal. It’s wonderful, isn’t it?
As my husband and I navigated being new parents, we spent a bit of money figuring out things that would work to help make the transition easier. For the first few weeks I was attached to a breast pump and needed things to alleviate my frustrations with that, then a few weeks later I was desperate to find nursing-friendly clothes. I’ve made a list of my favorite finds that have helped me postpartum and hopefully can help you too!
Note: I had an emergency C-Section, I never pushed, so I didn’t really need special things for my lady bits after the baby was born except the standard. Also, this post is mostly about boobs. Fair warning.
1) Nursing pads. Whether nursing or pumping your boobs are going to leak. It doesn’t really matter which brand, just be prepared to have something there to capture the wet stuff.
2) Lansinoh Soothie Gel Pads. I can’t say enough about this. Yeah, I had some lanolin around, but nothing felt as great as those cold pads that just stayed in place in my bra until they were gross. For serious. Get yourself some.
3) Lansinoh Therapearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy. This is a gel pack that can either be heated (to stimulate milk production) or frozen (to ease engorgement). Let’s just say that I’m what they call an “over-producer.” When my kiddo began sleeping through the night, I’d stick these frozen packs in my bra before I went to bed. That way I could sleep a lot longer without having to pump because of the pain.
4) Jessica Simpson Lace Trim Ruched Clip Down Nursing Camis. I talked about these in my hospital bag post. They are seriously the best. I love that I don’t have to wear another bra with them – they work as nursing bras, and they are great under loose-fitting, flowy tops. Speaking of bras, I haven’t been pumping a lot lately, but when I was, I really needed to be hands free. The Simple Wishes D*LITE Hands Free Breastpump Bra is amazing! A serious must-have for any pumping mommy.
5) The Boppy. People are so divided on the best nursing pillow: Boppy vs. My Brest Friend. I’ve tried both. My Brest Friend was okay, but I hated how I was tied down to sitting in one position. Also, it makes the baby lie down flat, and my little one had an issue with reflux, so he needed to be elevated. I like the flexibility with the Boppy, that I can use it with my knees propped up and it doubles as baby holder. Also, I could have the baby’s head on the pillow and his butt in my lap, giving him the right elevation for the reflux.
6) Udder Covers. I tried a few nursing covers. Thinking I was going to be discrete and fashionable I got a few of the infinity scarf covers, which may still come in handy in the future. However, my guy didn’t take to nursing very easily, and he still likes to latch and unlatch multiple times during a feeding. I would find myself with my head under the nursing cover so I could see well enough to get him in the right position. Udder Covers has a top part that bows away from your body, leaving your baby in full view. It’s also great if your baby likes to look at your while nursing.
7) Medela Nipple Shields. If you need a nipple shield to be able to nurse: yes, the brand matters, and yes, you need multiples. I wasn’t given the right outer equipment for my baby to get a good latch. For weeks I worked with lactation consultants, and the only way I was able to have a successful nursing experience was with the nipple shield. In fact, I still use it and may use it for the duration of nursing. I’ve tried the Ameda brand and the Medela brand – the Medela brand is far superior. I found myself needing multiples for two reasons: 1. I needed one for my diaper bag and for the house and 2. the dogs kept stealing them and chewing them apart. True story. Which brings me to #8.
8) Nipple Shield case. The case pictured is not the one I bought. I basically bought a glorified retainer holder. The case is essential to keep it clean while it’s banging around in your diaper bag, and it also is impenetrable so the dogs can’t get to it.
9) Nursing-friendly tops. Okay, so I’m not a big fan of nursing fashion. A lot of the tops look like contraptions that for the life of me I can’t figure out how to use. Instead I look for flowy tops that are either really loose around the chest or are button-down. The top pictured if from Free People and actually has arm holes big enough for the job. All tops need to be machine washable, because you will spill milk on them. Don’t get me wrong, most of the time I’m just in an old t-shirt around the house, but there are times when you need to go places. You might as well go places feeling fabulous.
10) Levi’s 311 Legging Jeans. Guys, these will change your life. These aren’t jeggings, no sir. These are JEANS. They have pockets, they feel and look exactly like jeans. The difference? They are super stretchy, there is no zipper fly (you pull them up over your bum and tummy) and there is a panel along the abdomen that acts as a shaper without being too restrictive. These jeans come in a lot of different washes and are under $50. These are the perfect transitional jeans for your post-partum belly bits, or just for life. I haven’t worn jeans for years, because I felt so self-conscious around my tummy. Not with these.
11) Jessica Simpson Post Pregnancy Shaper Leggings. Hey, have you ever worn compression leggings? I have, and even the mildest kind have too much compression for me – often leaving my ankles swollen. These leggings have very light compression, are opaque (so you really can wear them as pants if you must) and are high-wasted with some light compression around the tummy. I hate shape-wear. Hate it. But these don’t squeeze like normal shape-wear, and I can wear them all day without feeling like a stuffed sausage.
12) New sneakers. I think my feet grew slightly while I was pregnant, but even if they didn’t grow that much they are certainly a different shape. We’re still wearing flip-flops around here, but I love having new sneakers for running errands and taking walks, and postpartum you’ve gotta get out there an walk! Treat yourself to some new sneakers. Your feet will thank you!
13) The Ergo Carrier. There are a lot of things you aren’t prepared for as a new mom. I would say the most mind-boggling thing was how the heck was I supposed to go grocery shopping with an infant? Do you put the car seat on top of the cart, and if so, how are you supposed to fit the food in there? I realized that I just didn’t ever remember seeing a woman shopping at the grocery store with a newborn. Okay, so putting the car seat on top of a cart is a HUGE no-no. Don’t do it; it’s not safe. It’s a bit hot to wear the Ergo “just around” and it’s a little difficult when your baby can’t quite get his legs around your body, but it’s essential if you want to go grocery shopping. I’m sure when the weather gets cooler, I’ll also wear it for long walks to get a better workout.
14) The Orbit Stroller. This is the stroller that pivots so you can have the baby facing out, in or sideways. We use it for so many things, but lately it has been a big help in the kitchen! The stroller comes with it’s own stroller seat (less bulky than the carseat), and I can sit the baby in there to watch me while I get dinner prepared.
15) The Russian Swaddle. When we were in the hospital, I could barely move, so it was up to my husband to do everything non-feeding related with the baby. He tried and tried to learn the standard swaddle technique from the nurses, but most of the time it looked like he just frantically twisted a blanket around the baby. Then the lactation consultant showed us the Russian Swaddle. It’s a lot easier, keeps the baby’s arms in place and is better for the baby, because it leaves the hips loose eliminating risk of hip dysplasia. This swaddle saved us, especially when it came helping our infant to sleep through the night. Perhaps I’ll create my own instructional video in the future.
That’s my list. What’s yours? Tell me about your favorite postpartum must haves in the comments!